How do you be supportive when your your mother doesn't want to disclose all of the information?

nd26 Member Posts: 1
Hi - this is my first time on here. 
Brief history - my mother, a year ago was diagnosed with breast cancer - she had a lumpectomy and then upon further research it had metastasized to her hip. Which within the process of less than a month she had a hip replacement. 

I just wanted to share my story - and wanted to hear your thoughts, comments etc... 

The diagnosis:
First off I live in another State and was going through a few health tests myself - and as we are an open family and I'm single I like to keep my parents in the loop with my health etc... During this time they were very emotional (more than usual) - then after I was in the clear they told me that mum had cancer. 

I did an array of research - organised that BCNA send off a pack to mum and also send off information to Dad too. 
During mum's treatment of the lumpectomy they were adamant I should stay in my job and not visit for support. Once they told me about the hip replacement I flew down to support mum and dad with the op and recovery taking a few weeks off work.
I then flew down again once the radiation treatment started. 

The treatment:
Both mum and dad are grateful I was there to help out around the house, calm mum from dad's panicking and just be a buffer when things get a bit tense. 

After the hip op - it was touch and go for a while between mum and dad... there relationship was straining and anything dad tried to do mum would get upset... that's were I stepped in as a buffer. 

I flew back to my work - and then came back to my home town when mum started her treated for radiation... During this time I was the main one to drive mum to and from treatment (we even ended up having a system in place that made it efficient and easy for the both of us.) during this time dad would have time free to relax, do whatever he needed to do. 

I hope this doesn't sound insensitive but it was a good experience being able to support them both - at times it killed me inside as this wasn't part of my parents plans.. both had retired work early and wanted to kick retirement off relaxing rather than waiting in hospital rooms. 

After the radiation round wrapped up - I flew back to the state I'm living in and worked... waiting to see what the verdict was from the treatment. 

Turns out both the hip and breast are good - but there is a cancer spot on her lung... (which apparently both mum and dad knew about they just didn't want to tell me or my sister about it.

Since mum's treatment finished earlier this year she's now on lots of meds, mum and dad got to see their other daughter marry the man of her dreams... Dad is now back focusing on his classic cars.. 

Recently my sister and I have noticed a change in our parents behavior on the phone - they are quite vague and mum keeps talking about being in pain in her hip... 

-turns out she's been doing more testing - she's not really disclosed as to what though... is this normal? 
-during this time - I suggested some of the BCNA support groups in the area - she's flatly refused to investigate - should my sister and I be pushing this? 



  • socoda
    socoda Member Posts: 1,767
    Hi N, What a hard road your travelling! I think you're doing such a wonderful job being super supportive and acting as a buffer between your mum and dad when necessary. Perhaps with your parents being a bit vague that may simply be the way that they have decided to handle your mum's cancer. Whether they have reached a joint consensus that they are going to withhold information from you deliberately so as not to worry you or perhaps it's just that this is the way that your mum wants to deal with her cancer. I think even though she has not disclosed what testing she has had I'm sure in her own mind she has her reasons. All you can do is make it known to your parents that you are available should they wish to talk or de-stress. I also think that we each have our own way of dealing with situations and if your mum chooses not to contact support groups I would personally let her be. It may be that she is still coming to terms with her diagnosis. The fact that you have let her know that there are support groups in the area is information that she now has and can utilise should she wish. I do think it is so very important for anyone who has cancer to be able to feel even the slightest amount of control because generally the whole situation is so totally out of control. Maybe in time she will wish to confide in you and your sister and share information until that time comes around you are doing all you possibly can without eroding her sense of self. It is quite possible there is still residual pain from her hip replacement. Does she take panadol osteo to help manage her pain. My mum has had two knee replacements and has pain. An aunt had a knee replacement and she has pain. It is not uncommon. Hoping that this helps. Sending big hugs. I think your doing wonderfully. Xx Cath
  • primek
    primek Member Posts: 5,392
    I witheld information from my children and siblings whilst I got more information. Unfortunately with cancer we have lots of frightening times waiting on results and that is difficult to cope with. What I felt in myself was I didn't have the mental energy to support my family to cope with their worries and fears also. I also wanted to protect them until I had an actual plan and could share this. We are all different and your Mum is probably feeling guilty that you left your job and stayed and helped . much as she loved it. That's what most Mums are like...hate to be a burden on their kids. Keep in touch. Think about the future and how best you can support them. It is difficult living elsewhere and there might be times ahead when they really will need you there for some time. They will probably never ask, it will be just your gut feeling that you need to. Take care. Kath
  • Michelle_W
    Michelle_W Member Posts: 54
    Hi N, I too have kept information from my family. I did this because they had dealt with enough, I didn't want to add more stresses to their lives, this may be wrong but I didn't want them to worry needlessly, I would do the worrying and tell them when I knew more. I wanted to be normal I didn't want everyone treating me differently, at times I just didn't want to think of the may be's and could be's. Pathology and tests take days and weeks to get results, so why have everyone worrying. My children don't agree with this because that is what families do, support each other. As a parent no matter the age of our children we still want to protect them and we only do this with the utmost LOVE.
    So hang in there N, be patient and just be there, it may just take time.
    Regards Michelle

  • Brenda5
    Brenda5 Member Posts: 2,423
    As long as your parents know to just yell out if they need you that's all you can do. Will your mother be having chemo or has she refused it or is it not necessary at the moment?
    My parents were supportive during surgery as that's something they knew how to deal with but with chemo and longer treatment its like they really didn't want to know. I was told, we don't want to hear about that, during our Christmas get together so I realised I was pretty much on my own with just hubby and sons.
  • Cate64
    Cate64 Member Posts: 446
    @nd26, from a Mum with mbc, you need to not push her, you need to leave her to deal with things her own way & when she wants to share she will.

    I did not share with my parents or my kids for months, I had already had my first round of Chemo before I told my boys. I needed to deal with things & get my head around it, know where I was headed & what I was doing before I told them.

    Its hard enough to deal with it & take it in yourself without having feeling you need to support your loved ones thru it & yes, that is exactly what you feel you must do when it happens to you.

    When my sister, who lives interstate, found out, she rang & was wanting to drop everything & come to Melbourne to help me, drive me to chemo, cook my dinner etc... & that is exactly what I did not want, I wanted my life to continue on as normal, I did not want everyone fussing over me, thinking I was going to break. I didn't want people around me all the time, I wanted my normal life...

    Let her know you are there for her, that she just has to ask for help & you will be there but dont be in her face (for want of a better term).

    Its very hard dealing with it yourself without explaining things over & over again to people (albeit close family). I understand you want to help & be there, totally I do but I also know from personal experience that its possible she doesnt want to be discussing things all the time, to be reminded she is sick all the time